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Beginner What ruins a good picture, and how to fix it
#1
This is part of our Control the Camera series.

There is a number of things that just ruins any good picture no matter how yummy a room you created. I will go over the things I think always ruins a picture and tell you what to do to avoid it or how to fix it. Some of these things are just good habits while other things are only a cheat code away.

NB: I have used a pre-build EA-house for this, so the rooms don't look all that interesting, but you get the idea.

Grid
The grid is extremely helpful especially when you are building. It gives you an idea of how big your room is, where the walls can go and how much space things takes up. It is also really helpful if you are taking a overview picture to show someone who big a room is. It is however just ugly in almost any other picture. It should never show up in your beautiful outdoor pictures or outside the windows of the living room. It makes everything look rushed and it ruins the effect of your gardening, so it is a big no-no.

[Image: Screenshot-249.jpg]

How to fix it
[Image: Sim2-logo.png]
There are two simple solutions:
  1. Go into play-mode and take your pictures
  2. In the build menu, pick the terrain paint tool, hide the spray circle under the house and take your pictures
[Image: Sim3-logo.png]
You should not take pictures in build mode, you can't use the tab mode in build/buy mode. Tab mode is the key to good pictures both in sims 2 and sims 3. Read more about it in our other Control the Camera articles.
  1. The simple solution is to move a sim in to the house and always take pictures in play mode.
  2. If you for some reason do not want to move in a sim, you can use the mastercontroler hack to open up the house from another playable lot. You need the hack installed, click on the lot in question and pick "open lot" (or something like that) and you can now look into the house as if your sim owned it. I use this solution when photographic houses I want to put up for download

Thought bubble etc.
Thought/speech bubbles, glowing diamond and other interface object ruins any good picture, unless you are taking a picture show a situation where the thought/speech bubble is important for the story you want to tell. They are distracting and hide parts of the scene you want to show off, so they should always be avoided. They are very easy to get rid of, so please do so.

[Image: Screenshot-253.jpg]

How to fix it
[Image: Sim2-logo.png]
Simply use the cheats:
"Plumbobtoggle off" - to get rid the green diamond
"Showheadlines off" - to remove the bubbles

[Image: Sim3-logo.png]
Simply use the cheat - it takes a second in the unpaused game for them to go away.
"hideheadlineeffects on"

No ceiling
If the room you are photographing are missing a ceiling you get a view of the sky in the top of your pictures and it is extremely distracting. The ceiling lamps in the room also look stupid because they are hovering in the air. You can also create some really cool ceilings using the floor tool and CASting. So make sure your rooms have ceilings.

[Image: Screenshot-254.jpg]

How to fix it
[Image: Sim2-logo.png]
You need the EP Apartment Life to have ceilings in your rooms (yes that is stupid). If you do not have the EP you need to be really clever with your angles. Here is the solution IF you do have the EP:
  1. Turn on ceiling using the "show ceiling" button in the interface otherwise the ceiling do not show up
  2. Go up one floor from the room you are photographing. Lay down a random floor and the room below now has a ceiling. You can edit that ceiling using the angle camera option and the floor tool.
  3. Read more about ceilings in issue 7.
[Image: Sim3-logo.png]
  1. Go up one floor and lay down a floor over the room you are photographing.
  2. Go back down into your room. Angle the camera so you can see the ceiling.
  3. Use the floor tool to make the ceiling look like you want it to

Walls down
When we play we often have the walls down or half down and this works perfect for normal gameplay, but it does not look very good in photographs. It is harder to get a feel for how the room look with the walls down and the room behind the room you are showing off is distracting. In small rooms it can of course be hard to photograph them with the walls up but with clever angling it is almost always possible - if not don't photograph the room

[Image: Screenshot-257.jpg]

How to fix it
Turn off the walls before taking a photo. Use the tab mode to zoom until you can see the part of the room you want and use your mouse and arrow keys to adjust the angle with.

Bad angles
Bad angles ruins any picture, no matter how pretty your room is it don't look very good if the angle from where you took the picture isn't good.
The angle you play from is NOT the angle you take pictures from

[Image: Screenshot-262.jpg]

How to fix it
You want to think about if the picture you are taking should show off a detail or give an overview of the room. if you want to show off a detail, go close too it and zoom in a bit, crop out any distractions from the picture. If you want to show more of the room try to find a good angle from where to do that without zooming out too fare. A too high or too low angle makes the picture look odd or less interesting. Big amounts of empty space should also be avoided in most pictures. Consider what is the subject of your photo and find the best angle to show off that. You do not need to show off very little bit of all of your rooms, find the interesting parts and photograph those and provide one or two pictures that gives us a wider angle of the room, so that we have an idea of the layout of the room and how the pieces work together.
Read more about angles in issue 15.

Fish eye/keyhole view
When you take pictures in small rooms it is often tempting to just zoom out until you can see all of the room, giving you a so called "fish eye" view or "keyhole" view, neither is good. It is very distracting and makes the room look distorted as if you looked though a fish bowl.

[Image: Screenshot-268.jpg]

How to fix it
There is a number of things you can do in small room.
  • Move the camera back instead of zooming out
  • Don't try to show all of the room in one picture
  • You can zoom out only so fare that you do not distort the room.
  • You can take only detail shots.
  • You can take down a wall with the slegh hammer before taking a picture.
  • You can crop off the outer edges of the picture minimizing the fish bowl effect if it is the only way you can photograph the room.
  • Use a mirror to show off the rest of the room while taking a detail shot in a small bath room. Or photograph the room though a window or doorway

Bad lighting
Bad lighting can kill a good photo. Both too much like, too light light or the wrong lighting hurts a photograph. If a room is too dark it is simply hard to see what is going on in the picture. If it is too bright the light eats the details and makes it hard on the eyes. Lighting is one of the easiest ways to set the mood in a room. A soft light creates a cosy or romantic mood while a brighter white light is perfect for the kitchen or office where you want the true colours to show up and to set a clean or professional mood. You can use coloured lights to create interesting effects both in normal houses and of colour in night clubs.

In the right image I have set the light on one light to normal white light and the other light to dim and flame creating a softer side of the room. Not all the lights in one room have to have the same settings and not all of them needs to be turned on either.
[Image: Screenshot-272.jpg]

How to fix it
[Image: Sim2-logo.png]
In sims 2 you have to relay on the light settings the comes with the different lamps which makes it harder to play with the light than in sims 3, so you might need to take your photos though a photo editing programs to create the perfect lighting. But there are different light settings on different lamps in game so try to play with the lamps.

[Image: Sim3-logo.png]
In sims 3 you can really play with the lights. You can click on a lamp in live mod or control+click on it in build/buy mode to change the settings on the lamps. The main settings you want to play with is intensity and colour. I often use dim on my lamps and using the flame setting under colour gives a softer light than the traditional white. But you can also go wild and play with your own colour and intensity. Try not having all of the lights on in a room when you take daylight images.

Glowing white [Image: Sim3-logo.png]
Glowing white surfaces is a big problem in sims 3. If a surfaces is too white or too close to a light source the game seems to think it is a light source it self. This is no doubt done to give the impression of light reflection but it is just plain annoying and ruins your perfect white kitchen pictures.

[Image: Screenshot-273.jpg]

How to fix it
There is a number of things you can do, but you might experience that you sometimes just can't fix it without changing the idea you had.
  • Do not use pure white bit a very light grey on horizontal surfaces
  • Do not turn lamps on right over a white surfaces
  • Use the dim setting on lights near the white surface
  • Use the flame setting near white surfaces
  • Try not to use reflective textures on white horizontal surfaces.
  • If all else fail take an evening shot instead of a day shot

Unfortunate elements
Think about what is in your picture when you take picture. Should that dirty dish really be on the table. How about those three old newspapers. Should that bed be unmade? Sometimes the answer is yes the mesh should be there, but often it really shouldn't. Think about what is appropriate for your shot. Some gameplay elements, especially award objects are not really all that nice - they have cool effects but they are fare from picture perfect, so get rid of them before taking a picture.

[Image: Screenshot-275.jpg]

Uncropped images
Unless you are very very good at getting the angle just right when you take your pictures, you need to crop your images afterward to get rid of unwanted parts of the images.
Cropping your picture focuses it and makes it clear to the viewer what you want them to notice.
A picture is not finished until you have cropped it. In most photo editing programs it takes 30 seconds to do and it makes your pictures so much better. Even paint can crop your images.

[Image: Screenshot-278.png]

Crop off:
  • Endless grass, sky and floor
  • Edges of unintersting objects in the forground
  • Edges of pictures where you zoomed out a lot

Over-edited pictures
On some sites it is common that people edit their pictures a lot. This is all good and fine IF you know what you are doing and if the picture really look better after your photo multiplication than it did before you edited. A badly edited pictures looks worse than a unedited picture. The temptation when you are new to photo editing is to over-edit the pictures. Only edit the pictures IF they really need it.
We do not allow big borders on LivingSims Forum because it takes away from the picture rather than add to it, it distracts from the motives of the pictures. Generally a bad border seems like you are trying to hide a semi-bad picture by distracting us with a border. If you have to add a border to a picture make sure it isn't distracting but that it really add to the picture.

In this example I sharpened and edited the levels of both pictures and added a lens flair to the left image. Lens flares are very popular on some sites, but they are often not very well thought out. If you want to have a lens flare on your picture make sure it makes sense.
[Image: Screenshot-277e.jpg]

How to fix it
K.I.S.S. is one of the main rules of graphic design, it stand for Keep It Simple Stupid and means that you should not overcomplicate things. If you can do things in a simple way and in a complex way, when the simple way is often the best. So how do you fix over edited pictures? When you apply an effect to a picture, start with low settings and only adjust the picture until it looks good, not any further.
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#2
Awesome Mac! Very clear and helpfull!
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#3
Mac thank you so much for this very helpful guide. You are a real Star
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#4
I always need tips with my pictures, so thank you so much, Mac!! Yes
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#5
Wow, I'm late to the party, but this guide is heaven. I've been fighting with camera angles FOREVER. Thank you
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